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Posts posted by geoffwright

  1. I can imagine "mind-english" players wagging their head from one side to the other as their fingers swap sides.

    I am always in trouble for silent concertina (moving the fingers but not the bellows) playing during the TV news.

    I am also regularly told off for reading the paper, listening to the news AND playing silent concertina. How's that for multi-tasking?

  2. After braving the South Yorkshire blizzard, we arrived and joined the other 10 Dungworth-tinas, with Brunswick Second Brew as the nights offering. After being treated to a most informative maintenance lesson-in-a-nutshell, large sarnies arrived. Excellent tune session again.

    CU all on 23rd March.

  3. We have to differentiate between "ceilidh" and "English ceilidh" as some bands do play for both (my band included).


    English ceilidh is normally English dances played to English tunes.


    In Scotland, Ceilidh is used to differentiate between purist Scottish Country Dances (where the dances and tunes are all by the book), and Ceilidh, where more old-time dances feature such as Twosteps, Strip The Widow, Flashing White Sergeant, Gay Gordons, Schottisches, Barn Dances etc. and the dancers are left much more to their own devices with less directions from a caller (if any).


    Tempo and instrumental line-up would probably be totally different between English and non-English as well.

    From our point of view, concertinas would very much feature in the first, but very much less in the other (although they are found here and there).

  4. As an English Irish-music player (particularly of the ultra-fast diddly-diddly school) playing 39 key Jeffries C/G anglo, I don't find weight comes into it. You get a comfy position for the box and move one end as little as possible.

    Diddly players probably play less chords so have more wind (fnaaar) and many practise playing tunes in either direction so can minimise bellows direction change.

    The only strain diddly players may feel is playing tunes which go down to the bottom end of the left hand side, but these pinky-stretching exercises are worth persevering with, if just for the tonal contrast down there.

  5. Sharron
    Well Sharon, perhaps you should be getting out with your camera and tape recorder to the "Colpitts", "Cock 'o' the North", "The Angel", "The County" or wherever they have a proper Geordie session these days, and let us hear a bit of Northumbrian music and see a few players as I for one have become starved of a bit of true culture since being exiled to Sheffield for the last 20-odd years. :huh:



    Pete, There was no shortage of Northumbrian tunes played at the last Royal, even if the players were not of Durham standard. I intend to play as much Northumbrian this month as well.

  6. I think we have two separate threads going on here -

    1) Learning to play by ear

    2) Learning tunes by ear


    The first involves an instrument and unless you can do the second, playing by ear will be difficult. (Unless you can play "air-ango" and imagine the buttons and bellows direction).

    I have always thought of learning tunes by ear as learning to hum or whistle them rather than play them (as there will always be tunes you know and will never be able to play - flight of bumble bee?).


    Again, the learning tunes has two separate threads -

    1) learning tunes

    2) remembering tunes (and their names)


    and most people have problem with the second even when they know tunes by the thousand - (everyone, even decent musicians, has mental blocks occasionally).


    I saw quite a good patent method in the session, from someone who composes poems to remember tunes, although I don't think he composes that many poems - just uses them to learn tunes initially.


    This is a tune called "The Geese in the Pratie Hole"

    This is a tune that begins on F Sharp

    This is a tune you can play on accordion

    Whistle or fiddle, banjo or harp


    There you have the tune name, the basic rhythm and the key (D maj) - quite clever.

  7. I "fell into" a local weekly session, and by default, after some 2 years, ended up as one of the main session-leaders. The session grew, with no shortage of decent musicians, and in time we had to take a step back as you can end up going in various directions.


    I took an executive decision to keep the session fresh by deciding on a theme I would try and introduce each week, usually a tradition we don't play as much of.

    Some weeks, morris will appear, other weeks, English ceilidh, again, other weeks, I will get the mood for a slow session and the first half of the evening will be for the benefit of beginners, and also the experts, on whom I enforce a speed limit, making them put a bit more into the tune.

    The early part of the evening is also quiet enough to encourage beginners by swapping instruments - they play mine, I play theirs, which also gives chance for a bit of discussion about instrument construction and maintenance.


    I keep a mental note of what we played over the last month and introduce a few new tunes each week, recap on new tunes from previous weeks and make sure we keep the standard repertoire ticking over.


    As I am a quantity of tunes person, the session evolved into a take-it-in-turns-to-lead session playing a few tunes at a time in sets, rather than one-tune-each around the set, but the sets seem to be random rather than the same each week, so everyone is kept on their toes. (This is fine as long as you have musicians that can do it).


    It is not really a singers session, but just to prove a point, we do have an occasional evening, un-nanounced, when we do go around the room and everyone gives a song. We were all most surprised to find out how many of the session listeners could come up with a song even they played no instruments. The un-announced bit was to stop anyone having an unfair advantage by practising or bringing song-books.


    Som time ago, the session had to move to another pub which already had jazz on, we started to be an alternate-weekly session and on the jazz weeks, we de-camp to various other musician-friendly pubs which is an excellent set-up as we cover a wider area and people from afar get chance to visit a session nearer them.

  8. Personally, I suspect it is a bad habit to get into, especially if you play alongside other people where ears may be more useful than feet.


    Some friends who attend a certain Midlands accordion club use a bit of carpet to stand their accordions on. I have been known to slide the carpet under their foot when the tapping got a little over-enthusiastic.


    Watching Mary MacNamara, she always gets both feet going before she starts to play so she gets the speed right. She told me they have to resort to carpet when she is on TV as she finds it difficult not to do "the feet".


    I don't actually tap my foot, but do use my "knee-bounce" to signal the beat for the benefit of people at the extremes of the band.

  9. When Mary MacNamaras' "Blackberry Blossom" was first released, I enquired what concertinas she used and got the following answer (Mary was most helpful as usual). I also suggested that us players, would find it useful if artist(es) included details like these in future recordings - TAKE NOTE.


    D/G concertina - Tracks 1 and 13

    Bflat/F concertina - Tracks 2, 4, 6, 8 and 11.

    C/G concertina - Track 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14 and 15.


    And below is a quick tracklist, a number of which are already on the Tuneatron (along with many from her first CD).

    1.Shandons Bells-Tom Friels 2.The stone in the filed/Finlays delight 3.An Paistin Fionn 4.Tatter Jack Walsh/House in The Glen 5.Tommy Coens/John Naughons 6.The Golden Eagle 7.The Hundred Pipes /The Mouse in the cupboard 8.Paddy Kellys 9.The Cavan Reel/Sporting Nell /Rattigans 10.Scatter the Mud /McGreevys 11.Pearl O haughnessys 12.woman of the house 13.Spailpin Fanach 14.Blackberry Blossom 15.Mick Hands /The maids of Mount Cisco

  10. For any budding anglo players who like irish, Mary Macnamaras two cds are the best - slow and steady, no ornaments and in sensible keys. I learnt a lot about playing across the rows by working through her tunes - they just automatically fit under the fingers! Quite a lot of her tunes are on the Tunatron.

    I have the ABC to nearly all of them, and also the list of concertinas she played the Blackberry Blossom tunes on.

    I listen to Noel Hills as well, but his dishearten you if you listen too close and try and analyse what he is doing.

  11. Further to John Wild,

    I must keep reminding myself that I am the only concertina player they see regularly

    We were playing in a restaurant and someone said - "I didn't know you were actually playing it - it sounds jsut like the real thing".

    I am still confused as to what she meant.

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